The Pink Tax on Transportation: Women’s Challenges in Mobility

Posted on February 8, 2019 by Sarah M. Kaufman - Also by this author

Almost one-third (30%) of female respondents to a Rudin Center for Transportation at NYU study choose not to ride public transportation late at night. Photo: Public Domain
Almost one-third (30%) of female respondents to a Rudin Center for Transportation at NYU study choose not to ride public transportation late at night. Photo: Public Domain

Women in New York City spend an average $26 to $50 extra per month to stay safe on transportation.

The Rudin Center for Transportation at New York University studied how the Pink Tax applies to transportation in New York City. The Pink Tax is a form of gender-based price discrimination; it’s the extra amount that women pay for certain products and services, like deodorant and dry cleaning.

According to the survey of 547 New Yorkers, 75% of female responses indicated experiencing some form of harassment or theft while using public transportation, compared to 47% of male responses. The results suggest that women consider different factors than men while making transportation-related decisions. Almost one-third (30%) of female respondents choose not to ride public transportation late at night. Instead, they tend to utilize transportation options like for-hire vehicles and taxis which are often more expensive.

Of those who have been harassed, a mere 12% reported the incident to authorities. The disconnect between incidents and reporting the incident to authorities was illustrated in one response, “The notion of reporting everyday harassment to the authorities is bizarre to me. What would they do?”

Most respondents who take frequent caregiver trips add more than $75 to their monthly travel expenses. When added to the cost of safety, we estimate that the Pink Tax on women caregivers in New York City can reach up to $100 per month in addition to regular travel expenses.

Due the survey’s online deployment, respondents consist of a well-educated subset, with a disproportionate number residing on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Further research will consider how women who cannot afford to switch modes manage issues of harassment on public transportation.

Sarah M. Kaufman is Associate Director // Adjunct Professor of Planning and Gloria Campbell is a graduate assistant at the Rudin Center for Transportation at New York University.

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